Mezgec sprints to third on the opening stage on home soilThu 15 Jun 2017
Slovenian Grand Tour stage winner Luka Mezgec opened his home tour by sprinting to third place on stage one of the Tour of Slovenia today as the ORICA-SCOTT lead out man enjoyed a reversal of roles.
A widely predicted bunch sprint closed the opening day of racing after a nine rider breakaway had enjoyed the best part of 120kilometres out front before the peloton initiated a controlled catch.
Danish strong man Chris Juul Jensen played his part at the front for ORICA-SCOTT before a hectic finale unfolded with a crash splitting the field in the last kilometre.
Mezgec escaped unscathed and went on to take a very close third place behind stage one winner Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).
“The stage went very well for us,” said sport director Matt Wilson. “The break went early and the sprinters teams took control of the pace setting and we didn’t really have to get involved until the final 30kilometres. It always looked likely that it would come back for a sprint and Luka positioned himself very well in the final few hundred metres.”
“Luka is in great shape and a little bit disappointed not to have picked up the stage win, he was carrying a lot of speed and just got squeezed in the last 50metres before the line. Nevertheless we have to look at the positives, the team all came through ok, our form is good and there is another opportunity tomorrow.
“Tomorrow’s stage two should be quite straightforward and again come down to a sprint finish and we will be doing everything we can to get Luka up there for another chance to contest the sprint. The climbs come later in the week so there are no great concerns regarding the GC after today’s first day of racing.”
How it happened:
Looking like a day for the sprinters the 159kilometre stage one got underway in the southwest of the country near the border of Italian Trieste with a breakaway of nine riders forming in the early kilometres over the first climbs of the day.
After 50kilometres of racing the leaders had developed a holding advantage of around five minutes on the bunch with all ORICA-SCOTT riders maintaining position in the peloton.
The situation remained the same until the final 45kilometres when Dimension-Data and Bora-Hansgrohe ramped up the pace of the peloton and slashed the lead of the riders out front to two minutes.
Danish powerhouse Juul Jensen was sent up to the head of the peloton inside the closing 25kilometres with the nine leaders now at one minute and mounting a defiant attempt to stay clear.
Despite a last gasp attack with ten kilometres to go the race came back together for the anticipated bunch sprint, Dimension-Data were still active at the front going into the finale, but it was Bennett and Bora who took the stage win with Mezgec sprinting hard for third.
Tour of Slovenia stage one results:
1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe)
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) ST
3. Luka Mezgec (ORICA-SCOTT) ST
General Classification after stage one:
1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe)
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida)
3. Luka Mezgec (ORICA-SCOTT)
Photos courtesy of ©TDWsport.com